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The first four Presidents of independent Singapore were appointed to a term of four years. But in 1993 the presidency changed from being an appointed post to an elected one. The next two Presidents were elected to the office unopposed.
Prior to 30 November 1991, the President of the Republic of Singapore was elected by Parliament for a term of 4 years. Yusof bin Ishak, Singapore's Yang di-Pertuan Negara after Sir William Goode stepped down, was the Republic's first President. He was born on 12 August 1910 and assumed office as Yang di-Pertuan Negara on 3 December 1959. He became the President of Singapore on 9 August 1965 and served until his death on 23 November 1970 of heart failure.
The following January, Parliament named eminent gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Benjamin Henry Sheares as Yusof's successor. He was sworn in as President on 2 January 1971 and died during his third term of office on 12 May 1981. Five months later, Chengara Veetil Devan Nair, a former trade union leader, was announced as the third President of Singapore. In March 1985, just months before his term was to expire, Nair resigned after a shock announcement by the government that he had been diagnosed as an alcoholic.
Wee Kim Wee was installed as Singapore's fourth President in August 1985. His term expired in September 1993, when the presidency changed from being an appointed post to an elected one. Ong Teng Cheong, a former Deputy Prime Minister, and a trained architect was sworn in on 1 September 1993 and made Singapore's first elected President, serving until 31 August 1999.
On 1 September 1999, S. R. Nathan, a former civil servant and diplomat, was appointed the second elected President of Singapore. After serving two terms, Nathan did not seek re-election in 2011. The election was won by Tony Tan Keng Yam, a former Deputy Prime Minister. Tan took office on 1 September 2011.
List of Presidents of Singapore
Yusof bin Ishak (22 December 1965 - 23 November 1970)
Prof Benjamin Henry Sheares (2 January 1971 - 12 May 1981)
Chengara Veetil Devan Nair (24 October 1981 - 28 March 1985)
Wee Kim Wee (2 September 1985 - 1 September 1993)
Ong Teng Cheong (1 September 1993 - 31 August 1999)
Sellapan Ramanathan (1 September 1999 - 31 August 2011)
Tony Tan Keng Yam (1 September 2011 - )
Singapore Chronicles: A special commemorative history of Singapore (p. 48). (1995). Hong Kong: Illustrated Magazine.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN)
The information in this article is valid as at 1997 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.